A BURDEN FOR SOULS
1 Timothy 1:15-16: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in Me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."
In these verses every child of God is told that Paul has been divinely appointed by a Sovereign God to be the pattern of every child of God; so we are to try to be like Paul. You are not to be like the millions of Baptist today who take it easy and they will tell you that they are all right. We must remember that Christ Jesus had twelve disciples and the only one of them that was dead sure he was saved was the one that betrayed the Lord. The other eleven when the Lord said to them, "One of you will betray Me," knowing the evil that was in their own hearts, they said, "Lord is it I?" But old Judas was one of the "know so folks, I know I'm saved." You watch those folks, they are sure for hell, as sure as I am preaching to you. That's not what the Bible teaches; the Bible says: that a Christian is somebody that has laid hold on the hope that is set before him, therefore we have as an anchor for the soul which is sure and stedfast and it acts as a strong consolation to everybody that has fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us: Which hope we have that has now entered within the vale; whither the forerunner, the Lord Jesus Christ has for us entered.
Hebrews 6:17-20: "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Now if your hope is in Christ that's fine, but if you are one of these who say, "I know I'm saved, I don't care what anybody says. Once saved, always saved; I know I am going to heaven when I die." (That means they made a profession once.) No they aren't going to heaven, they are going to hell. The Bible doesn't teach that. The Bible says if anybody is in Christ, a member of His Body, a branch and He is the vine, that person is saved. Amen! But this gang of church members that feeds on T.V., dresses like the world and loves the things of the world, brags on themselves, that doesn't know what prayer is, doesn't have a burden for souls, and doesn't know what witnessing is; it isn't talking about them.
They haven't laid hold on Christ; they just made a false profession and joined the church and are going to hell. Do you believe that? That's so. I want to read you a testimony of a man who wrote the words about Christians are people who laid hold upon a hope. This generation of church members can travel all day on the Lord's Day to start on their vacation and claim to be Christians. This generation of church members can put their filthy hands on the first $10.00 out of the $100.00 that comes to them, "God says that is mine." God doesn't say that a Christian ought to tithe. A Christian that just tithes is a disgrace if that is all you do. If you ever get saved you will start giving. The Bible talks about a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." But I know a lot of people that would swear on a stack of Bibles that they are going to heaven when they die and they don't even tithe. And yet they say they are saved; they aren't saved, they are thieves, and on the road to hell.
We've got a generation of church members that can break every law that God ever wrote and claim to be saved. I'm not talking about that gang, I am talking about people who got scared and they fled for refuge; they said, "I am guilty of breaking God's Holy Law and I must get to Christ or go to hell. I don't want to have to deal with God's Holy Law at the judgment, it knows no mercy and no pity, and every sinner is going to have to face God's eternal, holy, perfect and just immutable Law at the judgment. And the penalty has got to be exacted and it kills everything it touches, and it will damn your soul and send you to hell if you stand at the judgment guilty of breaking the Holy Law of God.
I need somebody to be my substitute, I desperately need a Saviour! If I can't be joined to Him, Who is the Saviour of sinners, I got to face that law and deal with it myself and I don't want to do that. I don't want a little help, I want a substitute to take my place, and only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that. I want to stand clothed in His righteousness and not in mine. I want Him for my Lord and Saviour.
I want to read to you about a man who was set to be the pattern for every Christian, and he gives us a testimony in Romans 9:1-3: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Paul was a pattern for every Christian. I hear people say God's people need to have a burden for souls, that's not true, God's people have a burden. We need to show this ungodly world some of the marks of a Christian, one mark is a heavy heart and a burden for souls. When I look at Scripture like this it makes us wonder about our own condition. Oh, how we need to weep and pour out our hearts in supplications to God for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival. A person who does not live to save others is not saved himself. To be a Christian is somebody that belongs to Christ and He loved souls enough to come and be spat upon and be crucified; and we don't love them enough to weep over them and pray for them. I come here to represent a Holy God and a Christ who died on a cross, and both of them meant business; and it is high time that we start acting a little like the Lord Jesus Christ. We can't be like Him, but we will be if we are saved, when He gets through with us. But we could be like Paul for he is our human pattern.
We are living in a day when they make a joke out of hell and use the word to curse with. Christians should face the fact that hell is no joke, it is a place of punishment for all who refuse to bow to the rule and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. This generation believes that God is too good to send anybody to hell, so we live in our nice homes and come to our nice little churches and go through the motions, and let people go to hell unprayed for, unloved, unwept over. God help us! I stand here tonight because God set His affections on me, and He sent a college professor after me and that college professor wouldn't let me go to hell; he loved me and he wouldn't leave me alone.
Do you know what hell is? It is a place where the penalty of God's Holy Law is visited on men and women; where men experience God's righteous indignation. Everything you got, God gave it to you; this is His world and men live here and enjoy all things from God; and spit in the face of God's Son and say, "We will not have this man to rule over us." And when they come to the judgment they will be sent to hell to experience forever the awful penalty of a Holy Lord God. I don't want to face that; I don't want to have to live throughout eternity with the lash of God's holy indignation beating on my back.
If you ever start reading your Bible and facing some facts, you will stop asking God to bless people now; what this generation needs is for God to judge them and bring them to their knees. God can't save a man till He judges him and sends a tremble under the righteous weight of God's Holy Law and he realizes something of his awful sinful lost condition. If we believed the Bible we would pray, "Oh God, shut them up where there is no hope for them and there is no where else to go except to God." For it is only then that men will lift up their eyes and look, for men will trust everybody before they will God. Men will never trust God till He brings them to their wit's end, where the Holy Spirit can get them in a position where He can plant the Gospel seed. We need to start that kind of praying. That's right.
This hell business isn't any joke, and it should be preached by men of God more than it is today. I am so glad I am 58 years old and somebody loved me; I am so glad I lived back yonder when they didn't pray, "Oh Lord, save the lost," but somebody prayed "Save Rolfe." Somebody wouldn't let me go to hell, that college professor; he prayed for me, and wept over me. I don't know why God layed me on that old professor's heart, I just thank God He did. That professor couldn't save me, but he could weep over me and ask God to save me. He couldn't break me, but he could ask God to break my stubborn will. He would wait for me at night and with tears in his eyes he would say, "Rolfe, I can't let you go to hell."
I feel sorry for these young boys and girls, their mothers and dads don't have a burden for their souls and they don't have time to pray for their children. The old time mothers and dads use to have a place to pray. I have been in homes where the boys would show me the trail that mother made where at a certain time of day she went and took her children to God in prayer. I have been in homes where the man at a certain time of day he was at his place where he met God and prayed for his children. We don't have that today.
Bless God, mothers and dads, deacons and preachers and the whole outfit, we are nice little people and we don't know what it is to weep for souls. We don't know what it is to cry unto God with strong supplications. Oh for a burden for souls. It is still true in Psalm 126:5-6: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Your truth won't get anywhere, your argument won't get anywhere, but your tears are what God is pleased to use. If you can't weep over lost people, for God's sake stop claiming to be a Christian. My Lord wept over a whole city.
If you are saved you have got something that God called you to do and that is all you are good for, and you are happy if you are doing it, and you are not happy if you are not.
These people say we are going to have a revival and you haven't even wet the rug with your tears, don't know what weeping for sinners is, don't know what intercessory prayer is. Can you say, "Mark me out Lord, but don't send my boy to hell?" Paul said, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ." Who for Paul? My brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh. They looked the Son of God over and they said He won't do and He cannot reign over us; we will not have Him for our King. They are going to hell and my heart is broken about it. Oh for a passion for souls.
It is a terrible thing to take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain, that doesn't mean to get out on the streets and use what we call cuss words. That means claiming to be a Christian unless you are, because a Christian doesn't wear his name; he has been give a new name, he belongs to the Lord. And you represent Him; you don't belong to yourself, do you? It is a terrible thing for me to say I am a Christian unless I am. Don't take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
I was going through the state of Alabama where I was born and I thought I was lost so I stopped to find out where I was. I saw a man plowing so I stopped my car and waited till he got up to the fence row and stopped. I made myself acquainted with him and said my name was Rolfe Barnard and he told me his. Then he said, "Oh, would you know a fellow named Jim Barnard?" I said, "Well, Jim Barnard was my daddy; he was a school teacher in Alabama for many years." He said, "Oh, yes, that is the one I'm talking about. Well, Bud, I never seen you before, but if you are Jim Bar-nard's boy you're bound to be all right." He wasn't bragging on me; he was bragging on my daddy. God help you, Bud, going around here claiming to be a Christian unless when people see you they brag on your heavenly Father. They say you are bound to be all right because you are a child of God. That humbled me; my daddy was the best man I ever met yet, the greatest Christian personality I ever saw. He walked with the Lord. Oh, God help us, if Almighty God is our heavenly Father through faith in His only begotten Son, we are a member of His family and we are bound to be all right. Don't take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
God is not going to put up with this stuff we've been calling Christianity forever, we are headed for judgment like we have never dreamed of. And our only way of escape is for Christians to start acting like Christ. Jesus came down here because God so loved the world, He didn't come down here to condemn the world but He came down here that the world through Him might be saved. God help us to be a little like the Lord. I was up in Massachusetts, the first time I held a meeting in New England being from the south they found it a little difficult to understand me; I found it very difficult to understand them. They were very nice people and very cultured, very dignified, very quiet and reserved. As I remember I started the meeting on Sunday morning; my wife was with me. I preached Sunday morning and Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night. And after the service Wednesday night I said to the dear pastor, "Brother Pastor, I believe we ought to close the meeting tomorrow night." He said, "Oh no, no, we couldn't do that." I said, "I was just making it as a suggestion, my judgment is that we ought to just close out, and I will go back home." "Well," he said, "What on earth is the matter, Brother Barnard?" I said, "Well, we are not getting anywhere; I don't seem to be able to get over to you and the people, and so far you have not done one thing that I have asked you to do." He said, "Well, Brother Barnard, you are a little strange to us." I said, "Well I am going this way and you folks are going that way; we sure won't have the blessings of God that way.
Somebody is wrong around here, and since you were here before I got here and I am a visitor at your invitation, and my messages and what I ask you to do, you don't do a thing about, I think I ought to just say, 'Well I will close my part of the meeting and if you folks want to go on with it, you can.' "And he was greatly disturbed. "Oh," he said, "it would just ruin everything if you did it, what on earth is the matter with you, Brother Barnard? .... Well you just won't do a thing I ask, and I either ought not to ask you some things or I ought and if I ought to ask you to do some things and if it is right that I do, then you ought to do it, and if I am asking you to do things against the Scriptures you ought to run me off." He said, "Well, what are you talking about?" I said, "You won't meet to pray; I haven't seen your church on its face, weeping its heart to God; I have been asking you to do it and God is not going to bless people if they are not that kind of people. You might have some mere people to join the church, but God is not going to save people in an atmosphere of dry eyes and prayerlessness. I've been asking you to go out here and talk to people and witness to them and bring them in your cars and invite them to the services." He said, "Brother Barnard, we've never done anything like that in our lives." I said, "I am beginning to believe it. Well, my wife and I are going on to our room and if it is all right I will preach tomorrow night; then we will close the meeting." We went on to the little apartment they had for us and after a while somebody knocked on the door and the pastor and deacons came in; they were greatly disturbed. They said, "Brother Barnard, we just can't afford to close the meeting; it would just hurt everything; people would wonder why." I said, "Well I don't know what to do." And they said, "Brother Barnard, if you will stay [they weren't thinking about me; it was the reputation of their church], if you will not close the meeting we will do anything you ask us to do." "I don't want you to do anything just because I ask you; I wanted you to do it because it is in the Bible and God wants it." "Tell us one more time what it is." "I don't want you to do it just to save the reputation of the church, but if it is so, if I have asked you to do what God's people ought to do and they insult God if they don't do when they say they are going to have a revival effort. It is a shame and disgrace to say we are going to try to have a revival and not have it, because that is a slam on God. He is supposed to be a God that hears prayer and a God Who works miracles, isn't He?" He used to. A church is under obligation to get its prayers answered.
So we turned to Acts 5:42 and read: "And daily in the Temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." They said, "We never have done anything like this, but it's in there, isn't it?" I said, "Yes." And they went out and Thursday night the church was full, because they had went out and invited them to come, and began to do what the Bible says. And I preached that night and before I got through preaching a little girl began to sob, and when we stood up to sing she came running down to the front and just fell down on her all fours there, and after a while I went down and talked to her and after a while she stood up and said, "Jesus is in here." We found out that she was a little 16-year-old Italian girl and that was the first Gospel sermon she had ever heard. Some of the girls went and brought her, she didn't know A from zero but you see a Sovereign God, He can do things as He pleases. Some times it takes Him 40 years to save a man and some times He saves him the first time he hears the Gospel. I think the little girl got saved, of course I won't know until I get to the judgment, none of us will. But it scared them, they had never seen anything like that, so I had them to do like they do down south, I had them to come around and shake hands with her.
Friday night the little girl wasn't at the service and Saturday night she wasn't at the service so I got a little worried and I went to the pastor and said I am troubled about that little girl, do you know where she lives? He said, "No, Preacher, I'm sorry we got so excited about what happened we never saw anything like that, and nobody asked her where she lived. We don't even know her name." "I feel awful bad about it." He said, "I'll tell you right now if she is not here in the morning, we are going to organize and we are going to search this city and find that little girl, I am troubled about her."
But Sunday morning came and she was sitting in the congregation, so happened my wife was sitting close to her. And that morning I preached on "Hell, The Sinner's Long Home" and after I had been preaching about twenty-five minutes they said that little Roman Catholic Italian girl which Thursday night had stood and said, "Jesus is in here"; she began to cry, then she began to sob and pretty soon her body was just rocking with sobs. And my wife put her arm on her shoulder and pretty soon my wife rose and the little girl and they broke up my sermon, and they came down that church aisle. My wife brought her upon the platform with me, rolled up her sleeves, had her turn around and rolled her dress down as far as modesty allowed, and let me look at her face. Her back was just terrible whelps and they were festered and fevered, her arms were cut, and her face was cut. And she stood up after a while and I saw a church born, she told what had happened to her to that nice Sunday morning crowd of Baptists.
She said, "Thursday night I ran home, I was so happy. Mama and Daddy, my brother and my two sisters were in the front room, I went in and told them, that Jesus Christ had come in here, and He is mine and I am His." She told them what had happened and the daddy asked, "Where have you been?" She said, "I went down to the Baptist church, they are having meetings down there, I never was in anything like it Daddy; all I know is that 'Jesus is in here.' "And her daddy got up and went and got an old black snake whip; he commanded his girl to stand and she did and he whipped her with that black snake whip until she lost consciousness. She said, "I don't know how long I lay there but I was awakened by pain and I opened my eyes just in time for my two sisters standing on either side of me kicking me in the ribs, then my brother came and spat in my face, my mother came and cursed me, and my daddy told me to get up. I don't know how I did, but I did. He looked me in the face and said, "If I ever hear you talk like that again, I'll kill you; go to your room." She said, "I went to my room and he turned the key in the door. I didn't have any medical attention Thursday night. Friday morning my daddy came, unlocked the door and handed me a piece of bread and a glass of water. I stayed in the room all day Friday and Friday night. During that time those whelps were feverish and festered and I was in mortal agony."
Saturday morning he came and I was waiting for him. I was desperate; as he turned the key in the lock and as he put his hand on the door he turned it, I let him turn it just enough I knew it was open, then I jerked it right quickly and he fell in the room. I darted out, I had so much fever I wandered around in the city and found an old empty freight car and I stayed in it all day. When the sun went down I went to a pharmacy, the pharmacist knew me and he treated my wounds some, and I slept that night in the empty freight car.
Sunday morning I was hungry, I was sick and I was hurting and I said, "What shall I do?" and then she said, "I remembered the Jesus people and I said I will go up where the Jesus people are; they will help me."
Then she came and took her seat, and she was in pain, sorry for herself, afraid to go back home. She said, "I felt so sorry for myself, then I begin to listen to the preacher and he talked about hell that awful place." After a while she said, "I wish what would happen to me and to you, I forgot myself and all I could think of was the daddy that whipped me, the mother that cursed me, the sisters that kicked me, the brother that spat in my face, they are going to that awful place the preacher is talking about." And then so help me, that little Italian girl lifted up her hands and began to weep and she broke the heart of that crowd. I saw them fall on their knees and I was in a prayer meeting. She said, "Oh Jesus people, won't you help me keep my people from being sent to hell." "Oh," I said, "I am going to tell about that little Italian girl; she didn't know much, but she knew Jesus was in here and her loved ones were going to be sent to hell, and she didn't want them to go. She thought she could say, 'Oh Jesus people, you will help me, won't you?'"
It looks to me like if we do belong to Jesus we could say we'll help you and pray for your loved ones. We closed the meeting on Sunday night and I was to get in New York Monday. The pastor said, "Let me get on the telephone and call them and say you won't be there until Tuesday. You just got to stay over Monday night; we are going to have baptizing and I want you to have the great pleasure." I said, "All right, I will." We made arrangements and they had a vote that everybody come Monday night that was going to be baptized. The deacon got up and made a motion to authorize the evangelist to bury in baptism a man and his wife, three daughters and a boy. I went down in that pool and five people came there and I got them all down in the pool together. I baptized that little 16-year-old girl, then I baptized her mama, I baptized her daddy, I baptized her two sisters and then I baptized her brother.
If you believed people were going to hell you would weep over them and pray for them. God help you. And one more time little buildings like this would be known as places where the Jesus people meet to worship God, and lift up their voices in unison asking God, Who alone is the Answer, to come to the rescue.
Oh! for a passion for souls. I am so glad somebody loved my soul, and I think if you are saved there ought to be somebody that you love and just will not let go to hell. That's God's way.